The Redcliffe-based Dolphins have been announced as the NRL’s newest franchise, with the club to enter the league in 2023.
The Dolphins, a powerhouse club in Queensland rugby league, beat rival bids — put forward by the Firehawks and the Jets — to become the league’s 17th franchise.
With the announcement of the decision, rugby league fans will again have a second national team based in Brisbane, alongside the Broncos, making a total of four in the NRL from Queensland.
In 1992, Brisbane gained a second rugby league team in the South Queensland Crushers, which joined the then-new Australian Rugby League in 1995 but folded after the 1997 season before the re-branded NRL began the following year.
It is the first time the NRL has expanded since 2007 when the Gold Coast Titans were admitted to the competition.
The Australian Rugby League Commission approved the grant of a licence to The Dolphins after accepting a recommendation from the expansion bid assessment committee.
“Today is an exciting moment in the history of our game,” ALRC chairman Peter V’Landys said.
“The NRL Premiership will expand to 17 teams in 2023 and, on behalf of the Commission, I would like to congratulate The Dolphins on being granted the 17th licence.
“I would also like to acknowledge and thank the other bid teams for the work they put into their submissions.
“All three bids were of the highest calibre and highlight the strength of rugby league in Queensland.
“Rugby League is part of Queensland’s DNA and to have four teams based in Queensland will further strengthen our game as the number one sport in the state,” he said.
The addition of a 17th side in the competition means the season will be expanded from 24 to 26 rounds, with two byes.
This will increase the number of regular season games from 192 to 204.
The finals series will stay with the top eight clubs competing for the premiership.
More to come.